Some days are more challenging than others…
Today started out well enough: the 21mo didn’t wake up at 5:15am like he did the other morning, but “slept in” until 6:45am (woot!); the 5yo had plenty of time to eat breakfast and play with his Legos (having woken up at 6am – which he does almost every morning); and the 9yo didn’t have to have a claxon bell rung in her ear to get her out of bed in time to have her “absolutely necessary” bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios before leaving for school. I even had plenty of time to drink my “absolutely necessary” cup of coffee, and even started the laundry.
Wow was THAT the wrong thing to do – the laundry, that it; the coffee part was probably the only way I survived the fall-out of having started the laundry.
You see, Tuesdays are the 5yo’s laundry day, and today is Tuesday (yes, I realize that organizing laundry by days-of-the-week is borderline-OCD, but the therapy sessions will have to wait). And today I decided that Liam’s fleece coat – the one he wears every single day – needed to be washed. I should’ve known this would’ve been an issue, but as he saw me put the coat in the washing machine and heard the washing machine door lock, and knew that washing machines make clothes wet, I did (reasonably?) think he’d realize that he wouldn’t be wearing his fleece coat to school today.
Let the temper tantrum begin in 3… 2… 1…
Me (realizing we’re suddenly five minutes behind schedule, for no good reason at all): Alrighty, shoes and coats on everyone! Let’s go. (Trying to unsuccessfully get my daughter’s nose out of her book) C’mon. Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!
Liam (unwilling to put down his Legos): But where’s my coat?
Me (a bit distracted because I’m tackling the toddler, who thinks it’s funny to run the other direction as soon as he sees me holding his coat): In the washing machine. Remember? You can wear your winter coat or your rain coat.
Liam (with “that” look on his face): But, I only wear fleece coats.
Me (having let go of the toddler, who takes advantage of the moment to gleefully run to the other side of the house, I hold up both perfectly good alternatives): Honey, both of these coats are lined with fleece. See?
Liam (seeing, but undeterred): But, they’re blue. I don’t wear blue! I HATE blue!
Me (oh no oh no oh no oh no): Pumpkin, your fleece coat is blue…
Liam (jumping onto the couch and burying himself in the cushions): I’m not wearing those coats! I’M NOT GOING TO SCHOOL!
Yep, go ahead and reread the above conversation to yourself approximately 200,000 times. Because that’s how many rounds it took to get Liam into the car (with no coat on, of course, though at least I finally did manage to Velcro his BLUE shoes on to his kicking feet). And it didn’t stop once I managed to buckle his writhing little body into his car seat either (“I’m just going to unbuckle myself so you can’t drive! I’m not going to school! I want my fleece coat!!”).
As Liam, his voice raising an octave with every passing minute, launched into the 200,001st attempt at convincing me to what – go get his wet coat out of the washing machine? – I decided that, rather than banging my head on the steering wheel, I was just going to turn up the radio.
And finally caught a break. As luck would have it, a song that both kids always demand I turn up was playing. For two blissful minutes I enjoyed the ceasefire. But as the song came to a close, my heart started racing, worried that the Battle of the Coat would recommence. Oh, no… In the rearview mirror I saw him open his mouth…
“Mama, can we listen to Bruce Springsteen?”
What?? Are you kidding?? Why yes!! Yes we can!! (Did I just shriek? Sorry…)
Because one or another Springsteen albums is ALWAYS in my CD player (go ahead and keep any snarky comments about being in the dinosaur age to yourself, please; you’re more than welcome to buy me a new car stereo with an MP3 connection if you find it so very amusing), I pushed play and…
The upbeat, rockin’ tune of “Glory Days” filled the car…
I could not have asked for a more perfect song. As I turned up the volume, Liam smiled for the first time since the tears started flowing, bobbing his head up and down to the beat. And all my own frustrations just ebbed away.
Listening to the lyrics (if you’re unfamiliar with the song, it’s a story that subtly calls into question our nostalgia for the “glory days,” those moments when life seems to be so perfect, effortless and care-free), I was struck by the notion that, in spite of all the crazy in my life (and there’s a lot of crazy in my life), I am in the middle of my own “glory days.”
You see, unlike the characters in the song, I am rarely nostalgic for the past (I shudder to think that some people believe high school or college was the best time of their life; just shoot me now). I am, however, sometimes (okay, often) guilty of anticipating an idyllic future when the kids put on their shoes after I ask them just once to do so; when the weeds don’t outnumber the flowering plants in the yard; and when I somehow have enough in savings to afford that family trip to Greece. And Egypt. And Japan. And Sri Lanka…
So, as I drove the last few blocks to school, singing along with Springsteen at the top of my lungs, I was reminded that life is only ever truly lived in the present. As messy and sometimes silly as my life can be (let’s be honest – a tantrum over a coat is pretty silly), I am so grateful for all that I have, like being able to offer my very distressed son two equally warm coats to choose from, even if he wasn’t in thrall with their fleecy blue splendor; and even more importantly, I’m truly grateful for my three healthy, if occasionally silly, children who keep me on my toes.
Though I don’t think I’ll ever be nostalgic for temper tantrums, and though some days are more challenging than other days, it was good to be reminded that all days spent with my little ones are glory days.
But for the record: I think next time I’ll wash Liam’s coat while he’s sleeping…